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Shahram Shawn Gholami, M.D.

Internationally recognized expert
in Robotic Surgery

performed thousands of laparoscopic and robotic
procedures since 2000. Learn more about Dr. Gholami


Focal Laser Ablation for Kidney Cancer

Until recently, most men diagnosed with kidney cancer would choose either active surveillance (watchful waiting) or radical therapy to manage their disease. The life-altering side effects associated with surgery are significant and diminish the quality of life for years following treatment. And the process of watchful waiting can be distressing for many patients.

Focal laser ablation (FLA) can be considered the middle ground between radical therapy and active surveillance for treating kidney cancer. By targeting only the tumor, focal therapy offers oncologic control without the lifestyle-altering side effects of radical, whole gland therapy.

What is Focal Laser Ablation for Kidney Cancer?

Focal laser ablation uses a laser to heat the tumor to a temperature where it can no longer survive. The laser fiber is inserted through the skin into the tumor guided by imaging such as an ultrasound or MRI. The temperature of the tissue can be monitored to ensure that therapeutic temperatures (temperatures at which the tumor cells will not be able to survive) are reached in the target and that critical structures – such as the urethra and nerve bundles responsible for sexual activity – remain cool and undamaged.

The goal of FLA is to ablate (wear away) only the clinically significant kidney cancer tumor while leaving the rest of the gland intact. The tumor within the kidney is targeted using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and its cells are subjected to the heat from the laser, but the rest of the kidney and surrounding structures are untouched.

Advantages of Focal Laser Ablation for Kidney Cancer

FLA offers a number of advantages over other therapies for treatment of kidney cancer:

  • Minimally invasive therapy;
  • Outpatient procedure;
  • Ablates the tumor while leaving the rest of the kidney intact;
  • No undesirable effects on continence;
  • No undesirable effects on potency;
  • Does not preclude other treatments in the future.

The Focal Laser Ablation Procedure for Kidney Cancer

Laser Probe. The laser fiber that is used to apply heat to the tumor during the FLA procedure is only about two millimeters in diameter allowing for a non-invasive approach to kidney cancer treatment.

Preparation. Some antibiotics are given prior to the procedure. The patient is dressed in a hospital gown and brought to the operating room.

Location. The procedure takes place in an operating room with an MRI machine. Surgeons and technicians can visually monitor the progress of the procedure via the MRI images produced.

If you feel that you may be a candidate for focal laser ablation therapy for treatment of kidney cancer – or just want to discuss all of your options – please call our office today to schedule a consultation.

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